The Census Bureau has launched the 2010 Census Language Assistance Program to help residents in different ethnic communities who don’t speak English complete their census form. Building on the success of the Census 2000 Language Assistance Program, the Census Bureau offers several resources to help each community achieve an accurate 2010 Census count. The Language Assistance Program also helps reduce the cost of the 2010 Census by decreasing the number of census takers that must go door-to-door to assist residents when filling out the form.
For the first time in the history of the Census, Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) will be available to assist non-English speakers. In addition to the English census form, in-language forms in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese are available for order over the phone through a toll free number. Bilingual census personnel at QACs also can help non-English speakers fill out English forms that they receive in the mail. Residents can contact their Regional Census Center for a list of local QACs if they need assistance in completing the census form.
In addition, Language Assistance Guides are available upon request in 59 languages, and are used to explain how to complete an English-language census form. Residents can find these guides at their local Questionnaire Assistance Centers. The guide is also available to read, download or print at www.2010Census.gov. This website also includes an informational video in different languages explaining step-by-step instructions for filling out the census form. In addition, non-English speakers can call Telephone Questionnaire Assistance at1-866-872-6868 after February 25 in order to request to be sent a different language guide.
The Census Bureau encourages state and local government officials and community leaders to help their community receive its fair share of federal funding. Their local, targeted efforts will reach the hard-to-count populations in their communities through messaging about the Language Assistance Program resources and services. Local leaders speak the language and know the pulse of the local community, which can help ensure that everyone has the ability to participate in the 2010 Census. For example, the Piast Institute in Chicago is providing resources to Polish American residents for the 2010 Census. Similarly, the Arab-American Institute (AAI) is publishing useful information for Arab-Americans on their website, www.aaiusa.org.
Residents can contact their Regional Census Center for a list of local Questionnaire Assistance Centers if you need assistance in completing the census form. For those who feel that they may not have been counted can visit a Be Counted site to obtain a census form.
Allied Media Corp.
Eastern European Team Lead
The United States population is undoubtedly diverse. In the last 20 years, there were huge increases in the percentage of women, immigrants, and people from various ethnic groups and different cultural backgrounds. Fifty percent of America’s workforce is now of another ethnicity or culture! In some areas of California, multicultural workers comprise 70 percent of the workforce. In Oxnard, or Santa Ana, California, Laredo, Texas, El Paso, Texas, and other U.S. Cities, multicultural workers account for 90 percent of the workforce. There are staggering increases—700- 900%—of multicultural populations in Tennessee, Georgia, Iowa, and other places.
For government and corporations to be competitive, innovative, and to secure and keep a market share, it is imperative to recruit, engage and retain a diverse workforce. Building a diverse workforce brings the energy and the creativity to the workforce. An environment of inclusion, where people feel valued and integrated into a company’s mission and vision regardless of their cultural backgrounds will lead to greater productivity. The dimensions of diversity are used as resources for success and growth by government and corporations.
To be able to create a diverse pool of candidates, a company has to go to where the candidates are. Colleges historically have large numbers of women and people from different cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Career days at middle and high schools in racially diverse areas is another outlet to discuss the benefits of working for your organization and your industry—get people interested in the field before they go to college.
Suppliers and vendors that champion diversity should be encouraged and are likely to help funnel a steady number of high-qualified and diverse candidates. An internal system that informs employees of available positions would help spread the word and attract new candidates. The hiring process would need to be simplified to encourage new prospective employees. It goes without saying that hiring should be based on qualifications and not on comfort level. But it is easier said than done. Humans tend to empathize with those they feel close to, those that resemble themselves. This notion needs to be understood intellectually, but also be practiced daily in the field.
The definition of effective leadership qualities needs to be reviewed. One has to be mindful of biases about other cultures, communication styles, and decision-making processes to not interfere with a recruiting and the hiring decision. One way for an organization to develop an in-house diversified pool of talent is to continually mentor people who are from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds and to incorporate ideas from other cultures to solve problems and be more innovative.
The recruiting process is the gateway to the company. Conducting interviews with a diverse panel will encourage other perspectives, and lend for better interaction with candidates. The recruiting teams who have been trained in diversity and inclusion awareness are willing to go beyond their comfort zone to attract the best candidates. Diversity training will mitigate and reduce the impact that biases and stereotypes have on the work environment. Cross-cultural communication training helps staff work well together and be more effective. Outside recruiters hired by any company should not only have a positive track record, but also have a diverse workforce themselves.
A carefully designed media, public relations and advertising strategy is imperative for an organization to attain diversity and sustain a diverse work force. Diversity should be part of the mission statement and should be prominently displayed. New diversity initiatives, internal changes made regarding diversity and diversity goals that have been met by an organization should be widely communicated to identify the company as a good place to work. Recruits will look for alternative employers when companies do not state and show a high value for diversity.
Relationships with ethnic community leaders and community organizations will generate good will and demonstrate that the company values the community as a source for hiring future employees. Also, potential qualified candidates will not shy away or be intimidated, but will be motivated to apply and pursue careers in companies and organizations perceived to be a “friend of the community.” Advertising in ethnic media not only allows an organization to communicate directly (and at a reduced cost)with a targeted demographic, but it also brands the company as a friend of the community. It makes it tangible, attainable and encourages candidates and their influencers to be more receptive towards it as a potential employer.
Relationships with diversity-related organizations like African American student unions, Hispanic and Latino student organizations, and Asian-American university scholars, as well as with ethnically diverse professional associations and organizations, such as Asian MBA and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce can be invaluable tools to communicate with a professional and diverse population. Ultimately it will lead to an increase flow of qualified and diverse candidates walking through the company’s front door. Don’t let your biases exclude excellent candidates.
Author: Mostapha Saout , CEO of Allied Media Corp., is an expert in ethnic community outreach strategies and ethnic media dynamics, relevacne and penetration. He has been speaking to the US media, government and Corporations on how best to communicate with emerging ethnic communities, about the Importance of certain symbols, choice of words, relevance of particular cultural items… Mostapha Saout has also been visible in public speaking about ethnic media, its coverage, its tone and perspective, as well as how the US is portrayed abroad and what it can be do to present an alternative and positive image. M. Saout has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, ABC Radio, Fox News, Philadelphia inquirer and several other media outlets.
This past weekend, on February 14, 2010, many people celebrated Valentine’s Day. The holiday celebrates love and romanticism. However, not everyone was solely dedicated to this holiday. Others—and to be exact great sizable portion of the population around the globe—have also celebrated the coming of the Lunar New Year. The multicultural holiday represents the coming New Year in several calendars. It is celebrated in many countries including: China, Vietnam, Mongolia, Korea, and Tibet, as well as countries where there are large ethnic communities in which the holiday bears its origin. It is on this occasion that the 2010 Census Road Tour regional vehicle named Founders visited the Eden Center located in Falls Church, Virginia during the local Lunar New Year community celebration.
The 100-day interactive 2010 Census Road Tour officially began on January 4, 2010 in New York City’s Times square. The first enumeration began on January 26, 2010 at a remote Alaskan Village north of the Arctic Circle. There are 13 census vehicles (12 regional vehicles and one national bus) traveling sacross the United States and Puerto Rico as part of the bicentennial population count in America. Over the course of four months, the Road Tour will be part of the largest civic outreach initiative encouraging everyone’s participation, in the upcoming census, while highlighting the diversity of the American population. Below is a collage of pictures from the Lunar New Year event in Virginia.
If you would like to know when the road tour is coming to a neighborhood near you, check out the 2010 Census Road Tour website: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/roadtour.
Yet again, real-world examples pop up on the importance and value of ethnic recruitment efforts. Slowly but surely, more attention is being paid to specialized markets, but many times, multicultural outreach gets placed on the backburner and its need only gets recognized in reaction to a crisis or with remaining budgets.
I came across an article a little over a week ago about a specific U.S. Army program, Mavni (Military Accessions Vital to National Interest), that enlists immigrants here on temporary visas. Those who are promising recruits can become citizens in as short as a month—extremely favorable compared to the potential decade-or-more wait the old fashioned way.
Mavni recruits are desired for their language and medical skills. The language component especially is extremely critical for those regions in which you can find the U.S. forces. That means immigrants skilled in Arabic, Urdu and Pashto are a hot commodity.
Naomi Verdugo, an Army recruiting official, spoke about the “extraordinarily high” proficiency of these immigrants recruited for their language skills. “We send people to language school, but it is tough to get a non-native speaker to the level of these folks,” she said.
Many immigrants, even those who already have their U.S. citizenship, have this level of proficiency. Even immigrants who have been here for years do not lose the language knowledge they brought from overseas. Their heritage, culture, and speech make up an identity rarely lost to acclimation; and these groups value when outreach efforts acknowledge that.
The Mavni program, although wildly successful, is on hold for a required Pentagon review. With all the positive feedback, I’m sure this review is a matter of formality and the program will be up and running again shortly. However, the article alludes to the fact that this block may have been “slowed by the top-to-bottom examination of security procedures after the shooting rampage in November at Fort Hood, Texas, in which an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, has been charged.”
Such reasoning for blocking this program may offend or confuse the audience they actually intend to attract. It brings up the point that cultural awareness, sensitivity and savvy are critical for intra-government workings as well as outside efforts.
The Mavni program’s immigrant recruitment should be recognized across all government sectors. These recruits clearly have language expertise and, in light of continuing events post 9/11, their cultural understanding is needed and cherished. And if citizenship is a hiring criteria, (which is the case for most government jobs) second or third generation ethnic groups similarly perform at this high level. And whether they’re immigrants or children of immigrants, most have an innate sense of civic duty and a unique appreciation for the U.S.—this goes for immigrants all over the globe.
The take-away is this: Just as we learn that such recruits are so valuable, the government should learn that efforts are advantageous. Multicultural and ethnic outreach should stop being reactive and instead be proactive—having the correct workforce now will eliminate the scramble if problems arise.